9 Must-See Sites in Istanbul

1. SultanAhmet Mosque

Sultanahmet Mosque

Built between the years 1609 and 1616 during the rule of Ahmed I, it is also known as the Blue Mosque due to the blue tiles that adorn the walls of the interior of the Mosque. Take your time and experience the peacefulness and tranquillity whilst watching worshippers pray and chant verses from the Qur’an and Islamic poetry.

Address: Sultan Ahmet, Atmeydanı Cd. No:7, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
Entry: Free

2. Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia

Facing the SultanAhmet Mosque, you’ll find Hagia Sophia standing with all it’s might and glory. The building can be traced back almost 1500 years. Functioning as a Church (and Cathedral) from its inception, it was transformed into a Mosque in 1453. However, in 1934 it was converted into a museum which is still the case today.

Address: Sultan Ahmet, Ayasofya Meydanı, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
Entry: 72 TL – The Istanbul Museum Pass can be used here.

3. Topkapi Palace

Topkapi Palace Entrance

Built in the 15th century atop a small peninsula hill, sits a former palace which was known to be the political centre of the Ottoman Empire. In 1924, the Palace was converted into a Museum. Visitors will see beautiful courtyards, exhibition halls, ruins and columns and many other relics. Be sure to visit the Sacred Trust section to see historical religious relics belonging to some of the major Prophets.

Address: Cankurtaran, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
Entry: 72 TL – It will costs 42 TL extra for Harem visits. Istanbul Museum Pass can be used for the Palace and Harem visits.

4. Galata Tower

Galata Tower

One of the oldest and highest towers in Istanbul, the tower provides visitors with great panoramic views of the city. Whilst it was used as part of a fortress and inaccessible to the public, it 1967 it opened to the public. With a cafeteria at the top, visitors can get a drink and enjoy amazing views of Istanbul.

Address: Bereketzade, Galata Kulesi, 34421 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey
Entry: 35 TL – remember that the Istanbul Museum Pass is not valid here.

5. Basilica Cistern

Basilica Cistern

Lying beneath the city of Istanbul you’ll find one of the largest cisterns of Istanbul. Located southwest from Hagia Sophia, the cistern has the capacity for 100,000 tonnes of water. There are many other cisterns in the city, however, this one is the most visited, accessible and impressive. Definitely worth a visit!

Address: Alemdar, Yerebatan Cd. 1/3, 34110 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
Entry: 20 TL (cash only)

6. Eyup

Eyup

Recognised as one of the most sacred places in the world to Muslims, Eyup is home to the resting place of one of the greatest companions of the Prophet Muhammad PBUH. Known as Abu Ayyub al-Ansari RA, he was known to be the neighbour of the Prophet PBUH. The area of the Mosque is thronged with visitors. From families to couples to solo travellers taking in the atmosphere, one can easily end up spending the day here.

Address: Merkez Mh, Cami Kebir Sk. No:1, 34050 Eyüp/İstanbul, Turkey
Entry: Free

7. Camlica MosqueTurkey’s Largest Mosque

Camlica Cami

The newly built Camlica Masjid in Uskudar, Istanbul holds the title as the largest Mosque in Turkey. This Mosque not only consists of a prayer room, washing facilities, toilets and a courtyard, but also has a separate garden, kids play area, an open-air rooftop with amazing views, a museum (still being built at time of writing this), a library, a separate study area, an art gallery and many lounging areas. 

Address: Ferah, Ferah Yolu Sk. No:87, 34692 Üsküdar/İstanbul, Turkey
Entry: Free

8. Take a Cruise Across The Bosphorus

View From The Bosphorus

A visit to Istanbul is not complete until you’ve taken a cruise across the Bosphorus. You can either take a long cruise or a short cruise from one part of Istanbul to another. Whatever the case, make your way to one of the ferry terminals and enjoy the views of the city whilst sipping on some Turkish tea. The views you get from the ferries are just something else!

Where From: Take a ferry from Eminonu Pier to either Uskudar, Kadikoy. There are other options available. You can also get an all day ferry/tours with entertainment and lunch/dinner on board facilities near the pier. Just pop over to one of the piers to explore the options.
Price: Tours usually cost around 20-40TL depending on how long you go for and what’s included within the price. However, if you’re just looking for a simple, short and calm cruise, just take one of the public transport ferries for around 5TL (3TL with an IstanbulKart)

9. Shop At The Grand Bazaar

Grand Bazaar

For some retail therapy, head over to the Grand Bazaar – a place which will tempt every bargain hunter. The Grand Bazaar was opened in 1461. An intersect for histories and cultures, it almost acts as a global crossroad. Being one of the largest covered markets in the worlds, it has over 3000 shops and 64 covered market streets. The Grand Bazaar also contains a mosque, restaurants, banks, post offices and hammams.

Address: Beyazıt, Kalpakçılar Cd. No:22, 34126 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
Entry: Free

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